Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Am I Not Big Enough".....

  Have you ever had an argument with God?  I know it sounds funny, but it seems that a large portion of my relationship with Him has been based on these mini arguments we have where I know he’s God and yet I try to convince Him I know better than Him!  It’s kind of silly when you think about it.  I mean He’s God….He created me….Do I really think that I can outwit him?  Sometimes I wonder if He’s just sitting up in heaven giggling to Himself has I march into His office with my well thought out pro/con list that is sure to convince Him that He’s wrong and I am right!  Boy do I have a lot to learn….
  Usually when I am having such an argument with God, all my reasoning’s are self-centered.  God will speak something to me and immediately my mind starts racing….is this God?  How do I know it’s God?  Well if it is God how will I get people to see that?  How will I make this work out?  How can I be sure I’m not about to make a huge idiot of myself?  I…I…I…Me…Me…Me…
  Well the other night I was sitting in my room, listening to some worship music and praying to God …aka thanking Him for making a way where there seems to be no way, all the while admitting my fears of the millions of other obstacles that seem to be standing in the way of where I feel He’s leading me….when God delivered the knockout punch to my argument.  Here I was offering my self-centered complaints about all I can’t do…as if I am in control….and God simply whispered…. “Am I not big enough”?
  Right then…Right there I repented, and cried, and tapped into all levels of girliness before my God, as I realized that true surrender means trusting Him to make the way!  Over and over and over again God has been speaking to me about the freedom, and the peace, and the joy, and the life that comes from giving all control over to Him and allowing Him full reign in my life, and here I am acting as if I have to hold everything together cause I am the one who can truly bring anything to pass!
  I am not God….and cannot do anything without Him….therefore if God calls me to something then it must be by His power that I walk out in it.  It’s kind of strange to think about, but it’s moments like these where I get what Paul meant when he talked about freedom in Christ…..that it’s in surrendering to HIM that we find it!  Like I said, I have a lot to learn, but I’m finding the more I trust in Him, the more lessons He brings me through and for that I am truly thankful (all Glory to God)!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Revolution in World Missions"...

K.P Yohannan is the founder and international director of Gospel of Asia.  He is also the author of the book “Revolution in World Missions: One man’s journey to Change a Generation”, of which I finished reading this afternoon.  His story is amazing and his message inspired by God.  Here’s a man who as a child was a complete introvert, now leading nations to Christ through his ministry.  If that’s not God I don’t know what is.
  Throughout this book Yohannan shares the story of his life and with each turn of the page you begin to hear more fully the heart beat of God beating through his words.  Born in India, the youngest of six sons to a mother who constantly prayed and fasted that one of her boys would go into the ministry, Yohannan was the least likely choice and God’s number one candidate.  He gave his life to the lord at age 16 and spent the next 8 years serving with Operation Mobilization, a breeding ground for the vision God was placing in his heart.  He went to Bible College in the United States, married his wife (from Germany) and even began pastoring.  Then, knowing the call of God on his life, he gave away all he owned and resigned from his position in order to give his full attention to the spread of the Gospel in Asia.  Interestingly enough, it wasn’t by returning to his Homeland that God used him.  Instead, he began to speak up for his national brothers in Christ who were already over in Asia and raising money to support them in the spread of the gospel.  Thus was the creation of Gospel for Asia.
  Yohannan’s challenge is this….World Missions has changed and it’s our responsibility to get on board with what God is now doing.  He talks about so much of western missions has become nothing more than social work….that we have forgotten that “the only weapon that will ever effectively win the war against disease, hunger, injustice and poverty is the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and that “fighting this powerful enemy with physical weapons is like fighting an armored tank with stones”.  Not that he is against feeding the pour, visiting the orphan, caring for the sick, etc., in fact he sees these has the call of God in the Gospels, but in his challenge is the desire for people to open their eyes and see that “meeting these needs is a means to share the love of Christ so that the people might be saved for eternity”.  We are suppose to go into all nations making disciples of Jesus, not just putting band-aids on wounds! 
  The other half of Yohanna’s challenge is to realize that our western ways do not work overseas.  In fact many countries are now closed up to the Westernized world and therefore our response now, in order to reach the ends of the earth for Jesus, is to sow into the ministry God is already doing through the national missionaries that He has already raised up in these countries!  American’s spend so much money on things we don’t need.  In every town there are HUGE churches, Christians living in excess, and thousands upon thousands of dollars being held onto “just in case”.  Our job is to step up to the challenge and seek God as to how we can support these ministers of the gospel who risk everything (and I mean everything) to carry God’s message to the people we can no longer reach!
  I can’t even begin to do justice to the stories that are shared in this book, in my little review.  I am not even successfully able to communicate what these words have spoken to my heart in the past week.  But I encourage each of you to READ this book (you can even download a free MP3 version of the book or send away for a free copy of it at and let God challenge you through these words!  Amen!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Starving Jesus: Off the Pew, Into the World"...

  Every once in a while I have these grand moments of clarity where everything just seems to make sense and I realize that life just isn’t about me.  It’s like for that all too brief and fleeting moment I get what the writer of Ecclesiastes was saying when he penned “Meaningless Meaningless everything is meaningless” and I understand that in light of eternity the only things that really matter are the things I’ve done for God.  I guess that’s why I resonate so much with books like “Starving Jesus” by Craig Gross and JR Mahon (which I completed reading today).  Books like theirs remind me that my faith isn’t just something I talk about; it must be something I live….day in and day out….and ultimately what matters most in life is not if people like me, if I’m comfortable, if life is good for me, but rather if I gave my life…my all…for the one who gave His all for me.
  Craig and JR start a conversation in their book about the fact that the church has lost its fire…it’s full out commitment to Christ. They talk about how we are more concerned with what people think about us and the idea of offending anyone, than we are with the heart of God.   In their words…. “The church has lost its outrageous edge.  Period…  Today, outreach is safe, with nicely contained events controlled by the politically correct.  We have become a church chained to itself”!  Ouch!
  Their book is a challenge…a challenge for the church to get off their butts and start being the hands and feet of God!  They talk about how God has called us love one another, to care for the poor, to visit the sick, to feed the hungry…and that in doing so we are being the “body” of Christ.  Yet too often we sit around debating  motives, talking about how faith isn’t social service, waiting for the right moment….all the while starving “Jesus” who is out there in our neighborhoods, our work places, our lives waiting for us to show them the WAY!
  I would like to say that my life is a great example of Jesus.  That my relationship with God and my ability to walk out all that He has called me to is not hindered by anything….but that’s simply not true.  I let so many things stand in the way of the life I know I could have with God.  I let worries about what people will think of me and how things will work out hinder me.  I let fears about not being smart enough or trained enough get in the way.  I starve Jesus by making life about me…..when it truly should be all about HIM!
  But what I am learning as I continue to seek God and surrender myself to all that He is, is that God doesn’t need my great abilities, my perfect leadership, my well thought out plans….He needs my heart and my willingness to say “Yes” to Him no matter where it may lead.  God doesn’t need us…He chooses to use us and “when you act out your faith….it produces fruit that you can touch, eat and share.  From nothing stems something…this is how God gets it done”.  This is the kingdom…and this is how God can take what is so “meaningless” and turns it into abundant life!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption"...

  Katie Davis is a 22 year old girl…who lives in Uganda and is the Mother of 14 adopted little girls.  More than that though, at least for me... after reading her book (“Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption”), Katie Davis is the perfect example of what God can do with a life completely surrendered to Him!
  I started Reading Katie’s blog about a month ago when one of my friends mentioned her story and told me I should check it out.  I remember sitting down at my computer to read it and not moving for over an hour.  And as I read post… after post …after post about her life and how God was using her to make a Difference for Him, I knew God was speaking to me….showing me what Surrender looks like.
  Then I found out Katie’s book was hitting stores this month and I kept trying to remind myself to check it out, but to be honest I forgot the exact date it was coming. Luckily for me one of our regular customers came into my bookstore the other day looking for a book about “a young girl in some distant country who adopted all these kids” and right away I knew what she was talking about and that I had to start reading immediately!  I can honestly say I DO NOT regret that decision!
  Although much of Katie’s story involves the 14 young girls she’s adopted, it also tells about how God has used her to provide Food and Education to Hundreds of Kids in the surrounding villages.  It talks about How God can use someone who willingly says “Yes” to Him, to bring Hope, Love, and Restoration to individuals, families, communities and ultimately the world.  Reading about people on the brink of death being brought back to life, is nothing more than a miracle of God, and to think that these are stories from Today…right now…makes it all the more powerful!
  But don’t think Katie’s story is all flowers and butterflies!  No, like I said, this is a story about Surrender!  For a girl who at 18 years old was homecoming queen, class president, in a committed relationship, and with a bright future that consisted of college, marriage and everything that is the “American Dream”….moving to Uganda, alone, against her parents’ wishes for her to go to college, in order to walk the dirt roads, feeding the poor, and taking care of “a village” while sharing in the pain and suffering of others, is anything but easy! 
  Yet what I love most about this book is how no matter what, Katie never once takes credit for God’s work!  In fact she says,” I had fantasized about doing something incredible for God and others; what I have learned though is that I can do nothing incredible, but as I follow God into impossible situations, He can work miracles through me”. And again, “I am inadequate and can do nothing without God.  Even with Him I can do very little.  But as I do what I can, I am able to watch Him do what only He can”!  Katie says, “I have learned that something happens when one makes herself available to God; He starts moving in ways no one could imagine”, and after reading her story, I couldn’t agree more!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So This is what it feels like to have a Changing of the Guards...

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about surrender….mostly because it’s all I’ve been thinking about...and the more I think about it, the more I realize that for me surrender is really about giving up control.  I like to be in control… I like knowing what to expect, how to respond, and even that I have the option to change things up if I need to.  But this relationship I have with God doesn’t work when I try to be in control.  I can’t serve two masters….myself and God.  Either God is the Lord of my life and thus has all control, or I can desperately try to hold on to what little control I think I have and spend my life living only for me.  Seems like a pretty obvious choice…albeit not an easy one to live out.

  There are two areas in particular that I feel like God has been challenging me when it comes to this act of surrender and giving up control.  For one, I was recently blessed with a raise at work.  Now in all honesty, I work hard at my job and I do feel that for the most part I put in the effort warranted my pay.  However, because I am my own worst critic, I also see the hundreds of mistakes I make and all the areas in which I need to improve, and with those in mind I know it’s a total blessing to be receiving a raise.  Anyway, when I first found out about my pay increase I immediately felt like God was saying this raise wasn’t “for me”, although to be quite honest I wasn’t really sure what He meant by that.  Then today I came home and in the mail there was a letter from City Team (a ministry based in Oakland, Ca) asking if I would donate money to help feed the thousands of people whom they serve both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner to.  Seeing that letter immediately reminded me of God’s words, and it was like confirmation that yes, God is blessing me so that I can bless others!  A year or so ago if I had received this opportunity, I wouldn’t have been able to give, even if I wanted to.  Now I can give and the question is….do I want to? (Ironically enough, since leaving Oakland, this was the first piece of mail I have received from this Ministry!  Kind of sounds like a God thing to me!)

  The other area I feel like God has been speaking to in terms of surrender and control, is in the area of my relationships.  For me it’s really easy to let people go out of my life.  I understand that relationships, no matter how good or bad they are, aren’t always forever, and so I really have no trouble walking away from people.  So if God was asking me to let go of some people in my life, it honestly wouldn’t feel like much of an act of surrender.  However, instead it feels like God’s asking me to head in the opposite direction… let my guard down, invest in people, risk being hurt, even risk being seen in a different light….and in so doing surrender my relationships to Him.  That means not trying to “get” people to like me, not trying to “fit” into whatever role I think people want to see me in.  It means just “BEing” who God created me to be, following  the Spirit and trusting that He will guard my heart and mind in whatever relationships He leads me to.  It’s interesting to me, that even in the past few weeks as I have stepped out to honor Him in this way, I’ve seen Him move.  For example, remember my blog post from last week about my childhood friend who moved in across the street and for who I baked cookies for?  That was one HUGE step of faith for me, trusting God to work in a relationship I felt was broken beyond repair.    Well, in the mail today I also received an invitation from this said friend inviting me to her house warming/engagement party in a week in a half!  I am in awe….here was a door that I thought was closed forever and God seems to be doing the impossible as I step out in faith!
    I don’t know where this path will lead.  I don’t know if any of these things will really make a difference to anyone but me or whether or not these acts of surrender will do anything more than bring me closer to God.  But to be honest, it doesn’t matter.  I want more of God.  I want to know Him more personally and to walk with Him more closely.  I want to love Him more fully and give myself more completely to Him.  And if that’s the only thing that comes from this life of surrender then I will be happy, because I know this is the Abundant Life!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Not a Fan" by Kyle Ingleman...

For the past year or so I’ve been quite the fan of the I am Second campaign.  Basically it’s a bunch of well known people, getting real in front of the camera, and talking about how they became followers of Christ.  So when I heard about the book “Not a Fan” by Kyle Ingleman , which has a similar aim in that it gets people to look at their said faith and choose who they will really serve, I knew I wanted to read it.  For me, it was pretty much was the kind of book that once again pointed to truths I already knew but also offered me the confirmation I needed about the current path I am on with God.
  The basic premise of the book is that many people are fans of Jesus. They know about him, know his story, know his words, but they don’t know him… just like someone who knows all about their favorite team, actor, music group, etc without actually knowing them personally.  The Challenge of the book is to step beyond just being a fan of Jesus to being his follower.  However the author is honest enough to not sugar coat the walk of faith.  He continually refers to Luke 9:23 which says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”, and the fact that the life God calls us to is a life of surrender and servant hood.
  Like I said, for me this was very confirming.  I feel like over the past several weeks God has been calling me deeper and deeper into my relationship with Him.  To trust Him to lead and guide me….to give him control and full reign, even when His way are not my own.  It’s like God’s been saying to me, you can continue talking the talk and doing your own thing, or you can follow me on the adventure of a lifetime by walking it out my way.  It’s not an easy road, it’s not always fun, it’s not always comfortable….but it’s true life…Abundant life.  I can be a fan….or I can choose to go all in and be a follower.  This book was like reading a contract between me and God and how I choose to live my life with be the signature I place on the dotted line!